The FBHVC monthly report

Welcome to our FBHVC Page.

The Federation of British Historic Vehicle Clubs represents our interests nationally, fighting for those who enjoy using their Classic Cars.

Robin Astle, our Club's FBHVC representative gives a monthly report on what's going on.

Robin Astle

March 2019

by Robin Astle.

From Press Release and FBHVC Newsletters 2018 No. 6 and 2019 No. 1

Press Release - MOT Exemption of Historic Vehicles

Before reporting on the FBHVC newsletters, I wish to explain why you have the FBHVC press release included with your Revcounter this month.

When re-taxing online with the new system you are given a box to tick that declares your vehicle as one of historic interest (VHI) that has not been substantially modified. You can then complete the taxation process without need for an MoT. However, if your vehicle already has an MoT then the opportunity to make this declaration is not given. The problem then arises when your MoT expires and a declaration has not been made. Legally, you do not require an MoT but in the absence of a declaration there have been instances of owners of VHIs being given a notice of prosecution by police for not having an MoT.

The enclosed press release, which includes a copy of the DVLA letter, clarifies the situation (supposedly!) by stating that an unmodified VHI does not require an MoT and that furthermore, it does not matter that a declaration has not been made. They are now saying that this process is to stop owners of modified 40 year old vehicles from believing that they are exempt when they are not.

Clear as mud? Hence the FBHVC advice to carry a copy of this DVLA statement such that you can explain your rights to any police officer who may be ignorant of the situation.

Editorial by Geoff Lancaster

Traditionally this is the time of the year when commentators in newspapers and TV and radio do lots of crystal ball gazing and make sweeping predictions about what our future will look like. The pace of global warming, the increase in frequency of natural disasters and the impact of international travel on the likelihood of pandemics… you know the sort of thing. It’s almost like all the journalists are on holiday so there isn’t any real news.

None of these themes are particularly optimistic either… you’ve all had your jolly time over the Christmas holiday now let’s bring you back to earth with a very large bump! Unfortunately this phenomenon has also inflicted itself on our own little historic vehicle world. Articles and features have abounded on environmental pressures, government drives towards the zero carbon economy and dwindling reserves that threaten the very fuel we need to pursue our hobby. Every day brings with it emails announcing new low emission zones that will restrict our freedom of access on the highway and the pressure to develop and introduce autonomous vehicles. The prognosis is really quite depressing.

Then suddenly a feature dropped on my desk which caused the black clouds to rapidly evaporate. The Mail on Sunday visited a very chilly Bicester Heritage for the year’s first Scramble. They were not alone. The public turned out on a bleak January Sunday in numbers… 7,000 to be exact! The paper waxed lyrical about the rude health of the historic vehicle community. Quoting profusely from FBHVC research, they noted the benefits to the economy and employment.

Interviewed for the article, Managing Director and co-founder of Bicester Heritage, Daniel Geogehan was also suitably upbeat. He talked about the rapid development of the site, the fact that demand for premises outstripped supply by a factor of ten, and that businesses on the site had grown their turnover several times over. He also talked about plans having gained permission not only to build new workshops but also a luxury hotel. I recall dining with Daniel quite soon after the acquisition of the derelict site from the MoD some 6 years ago. He laid out his vision for a ‘centre of excellence’, a cluster of businesses operating in a collegiate atmosphere. A place where traditional craftsmanship and skills could be taught and utilised. I was deeply impressed if a little sceptical. That he should have achieved this vision in so short a space of time is truly very impressive and not a little heart- warming.

So if you are feeling all doom and gloom, dreading the day when you can no longer simply jump in the car (or bike, bus, etc) but have only a soulless journey in an autonomous pod to look forward to, think of Bicester Heritage and feel the clouds lift.

DVLA – by Ian Edmunds

I have received some comment that the final paragraph of my article in the last Newsletter referring to change of tax class did not provide sufficient explanation. So, with apologies for that I will seek to make amends now!

The first point to understand is that, with the exception of vehicles which were inactive (unlicensed) when the SORN regulations came into effect, all vehicles must be continuously either licensed or SORNed. At any time an application for either one (SORN or license) will automatically cancel the other. This is known as ‘Continuous Registration’.

Further to that all vehicles which are licensed are required to be insured, even if they are not in use. This is checked frequently by DVLA and if a licensed vehicle is found to not be insured enforcement action will follow. FBHVC Newsletter 4/2016 (available on the Federation website at carries a short explanation of Continuous Insurance Enforcement (CIE) as it is known.

The final part of this background is that DVLA cannot register a vehicle without also licensing it. A change of tax class is considered equivalent to registration as significant tax related information has changed. A ’re-registration’ if you like.

The net result of all this is that if an application is made to change the tax class of a vehicle which is not licensed at the time it will automatically become licensed. Any existing SORN will be cancelled. Because if the change is to the historic class there is no VED payable, in most cases no MoT is required and because of CIE no check is made for insurance at the time of licensing, the keeper may not recognise that he has in fact licensed the vehicle.

So, if the vehicle has been on SORN and is not insured it will be picked up on the next CIE check and an Insurance Advisory Letter will be issued. To avoid this, the vehicle should be SORNed again as soon as the tax class change is completed.

DVLA have recently provided us with clarification of a particular aspect of the policy supporting the issue of age-related registrations that had not previously been clear to me, nor, I suspect, to some others. Prior to 1983 all vehicles registered for the first time in Great Britain were given current registration numbers. From 1 August 1983, coincident with the introduction of prefix registration numbers, used vehicles were given numbers appropriate to the vehicles age. This policy still applies, however it is not retrospective and vehicles that were registered prior to 1983 and given then current registration numbers in line with their date of registration in GB cannot have their numbers changed.

Despite that policy for a short period of time in the 1980s some Vehicle Registration Offices may have been issuing A and B suffix registration numbers in certain circumstances, for example as a replacement number following a cherished transfer application. DVLA may, depending on the circumstances, change these numbers but this can only be on a case-by-case basis as it would be necessary to interrogate the old records and retrieve archived documents. However, the majority of registrations would have been correctly allocated in accordance with the policy in place at the time of registration and will not be changed if this is the case.

As in all cases where a keeper believes their registration number is incorrect, they should write to Vehicle Casework, DVLA, Swansea SA99 1BD, explaining why they believe it to be incorrect and supply documentary evidence if appropriate.

A number of member clubs have told me over the last few months that first registration applications of a form that have been accepted for several years are now being rejected by DVLA, often with very unhelpful rejection letters. In some cases the clubs concerned have written formal letters of complaint to DVLA and unfortunately these have not received timely responses. If your club is experiencing similar difficulties please let me know by email on

Legislation & Fuels by Bob Owen

MoT Exemption

As you know, the Federation has argued that the DVLA process for enabling declaration of a vehicle as not being significantly changed at the time of re-licensing only was one which could put drivers at risk of bureaucratic misunderstanding and leave them at risk from ill-briefed policemen.

Well, we became aware that a real example had arisen and that the driver of a historic vehicle had received a Notice of Prosecution. The Federation urgently sought clarification of the position form the Department for Transport. We are glad to confirm that they responded promptly and positively and have provided us with the statement (see Press Release), which we think sets out the position clearly and succinctly and will be of real use to our members. It may be that members who have concerns about this will wish to carry a copy of the DfT Statement in the vehicle.

We are still unhappy that the Vehicle Enquiry Service cannot show an accurate MOT status even after the registered keeper has filled in a Form V112 or checked the declaration page during online licensing. Currently it simply says, if the vehicle does not have an MOT, that no MOT information is available.



FBHVC Newsletter

Check out a copy of the latest FBHVC Newsletter in the FBHVC Newsletter Archive